July 2, 2011
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. Philippians 4:11
A few thousand years ago, the Greek philosopher Socrates was asked to give some insight into a fellow Athenian by the name of Alcibiades.
For those of you who don't know Alcibiades, let me tell you the man was rich, he was brilliant, he was well-traveled -- and along with all the rest -- Alcibiades was a successful soldier. In short, Alcibiades had everything any reasonable person might want. In spite of all he was and all he had attained, Alcibiades always seemed to be magnificently miserable.
Commenting on this surprising phenomenon, Socrates said, "Alcibiades is unhappy because everywhere Alcibiades goes, Alcibiades takes himself with him."
Over the years I've seen more than one Alcibiades. You have, too.
There is the Alcibiades who manages to find a dark cloud around every silver lining.
There is the Alcibiades who manages to paint a thundercloud over every beautiful landscape the Lord sends.
There is the Alcibiades who forgets 364 days of health and complains to anyone and everyone about the miserable cold he got on day 365.
There is the Alcibiades who is convinced life has treated him unfairly, unjustly and cruelly.
Yes, I've met Alcibiades and I'm sorry to say I have little desire to meet him or those who are like him again. How sad it is they have forgotten the words of the Christmas angel: in Jesus we have been given good news of great joy (see Luke 2).
Understand, that angel didn't say Jesus is good news for a special race -- or for a special time -- or in a particular place. He said Jesus was good news of great joy for everybody.
Indeed, He is.
Jesus has, in His life, death and resurrection, rescued us from sin, death and devil. He has with His fulfillment of the Law and His rejection of all temptation assured us that because He lives, we shall also live forever.
While Jesus and Alcibiades lived centuries apart, I wonder how Alcibiades might have been changed if Jesus had been there with him. I wonder what kind of man Alcibiades might have been if he had -- along with taking himself everywhere -- taken Jesus as well.
Of course, that's not going to happen. The Alcibiades of Socrates' time is long since gone.
But that doesn't mean our contemporary versions of that ancient Greek shouldn't keep Jesus close by their side. He's ready to go if they're ready to have him. And in that, like Paul, they can find contentment.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, troubles and tribulations and trials come to us all. At such times may we focus our faith on the Savior and what He has done for us rather than the negative which comes from the devil, death and the world. Grant us the faith which knows Jesus is good news of great joy for each of us. In the Name of the Savior I pray it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries